Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Just Ducky

Don't tell me spring is not on the way. I have the proof. Not in the way of marshmallow peeps and plastic eggs we are all wheeling our shopping carts past at the grocery store. I'm talking real, live, peeping proof of fluffy adorableness.

We have four new baby ducks. And yes, they are already much bigger than when I took these pictures. In fact, they will be bigger by the time I finish typing this post. They are playful, fluffy and fun. And my children are filled with joy at the sight of them. Unlike our chickens, the kids can actually feed the ducks handfuls of lettuce, raisins and other treats right out of their hands with just a light tickle of their excited bills as opposed to sharper beaks. They are Pekins, which means they are soft and yellow now, and they will grow into the beautiful all-white ducks. Their cuteness is off-the-charts, as is the elation captured on my kids' faces. Our small, backyard homestead is slowly growing.

Here is a great teaching website to use for ducks. It provides helpful educational facts about ducks for kids, but also links to good duck related crafts, stories and songs. All About Ducks for Kids.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sugar Bush Tour and Maple Syrup Merriment

To further our studies of Where Things Come From this year, a field trip to the Sugar Bush at Blandford Nature Center was perfect for us this month. The tour was amazing, and extremely educational. We learned not only the process in which the tree makes it's sap and how we tap and produce maple syrup, but also the history of how maple syrup was made by Native Americans and by Pioneers. The kids got to take turns drilling a hole to tap a tree, taste maple sugar and maple syrup and see hands-on demonstrations of the process from both historical and modern perspectives.

To prepare and follow-up, I used the adorable story of At Grandpa's Sugar Bush, by Margaret Carney. This beautiful book tells the enchanting tale of tradition and sugaring through the eyes of a young boy helping his Grandpa make maple syrup from their sugar bush forest. It subtly includes other signs of nature and wildlife as the story unfolds and is truly a delight. Here is an educational resource for it: Education World link.
We also used plenty of the wonderful, wonderful free resources from the Homeschool Share website, the time and energy this site saves me is immeasurable and incredible: Maple Syrup Unit Study.
Here's a fun recipe we used (with the fresh syrup we bought at the nature center):
Maple Syrup Milk Shakes
1 pt. vanilla ice cream, softened
1 qt. cold milk
1/2 c. maple syrup
Put ingredients in blender/mixer and serve cold.

You can find more recipes and maple syrup activities at Grandmother Wren.

Sweet Times!